I’ve discovered a secret about friendly old people:
They were friendly young people:)
My neighbour is a grandpa (I’m not calling him old really, mostly because when I was a kid 40 seemed ancient:) and I remember when we were looking to buy our current home that he came over for a chat in the front yard. I liked that and I liked him and he was one of the reasons we moved in. We’ve had great chats since then and even one last night with him leaning on our fence while Erin and I were sitting on our patio enjoying the weather.
I’m looking at buying a car and he’s a mechanic, so I did what my dad taught me to do: ask questions if you don’t know something. It’s funny that with all his experience he still told me he didn’t know too much about what I was looking at and that his son “googles everything” and figures out car mechanics even though it’s his dad that was the mechanic, and this he said with a laugh.
He’s secure in his own skin. But not everyone who has been in their own skin for the same amount of years is.
He has nothing to prove anymore, but not everyone lands there.
He’s friendly in his latter years, but not everyone lands there either.
I’ve had a theory for some time that the older you are, the harder it is to hide who you really were all along. We’ve had grandparents who were lovely in their latter years and others who were crazy and mean spirited. I think we become less able to filter out the bad parts of us if we cared more about our image and less about actually becoming more admirable as people.
Being image driven is a tough deal because you have to specifically remember who is in front of you and what they value in a person so you can be that to them. This only gets more complicated the more people you meet until your entire existence revolves around what everybody thinks of you and how you can keep up appearances.
But looking nice isn’t the same thing as being nice.
The Bible tells us that honesty and truth are the kindest things in the long run, and if you shake that tree what falls out is this: you actually shouldn’t live your life to make people with poor values like you. It’s actually cowardly and selfish.
And you have to have a terrific memory. “Aunt so and so likes it when I ____, and my neighbour likes it when I listen to them gossip about ____, and my pastor likes it when I act very spiritual and preach to him about ____” (Actually I hate that and find it annoying, especially when I can guess their behind the scenes:)
How complicated is it to live like that? I don’t think an image-driven person has any sense of self at all. What I mean by that is that they have a HUGE sense of THEMSELVES, but not themselves as they could have been. I hate that.
How are we ever going to change society for the better if all we look for is for someone to like us? We’re not who WE’RE supposed to be, we’re whoever they think we should be.
Don’t get me wrong, I should really, really care what people with high values think of me. But if I never open my mouth and say what I’m really thinking because I’m a coward, I can’t inadvertently put my foot in it and be… what’s that word that I hate when I get my comeuppance…
The more fake my image and more I hide my weakness, the less REAL I am.
The longer an image-driven person lives, the more bitter they become because they made a secret pact with their fake selves and it comes back on them: “Never tell people what you’re really thinking because it might not be safe.”
Correction: It’s not safe for selfishness if what you were thinking was selfish, but it’s sooo safe for the REAL you, who is better than that.
As a leader I decided a long time ago I would cut a garment bigger than a person could currently wear so they could grow into it. Which really means I’ll treat them better than they deserve today so they can become that tomorrow. I’ll spur them on with more honesty and wisdom than they currently possess and take a chance on them hanging me with it.
We all make decisions. Mine is to be generous with who I am. Sure it burns me when someone takes the gift and acts like they deserved it all along. Yeah it hurts when they read their own immature intentions into mine and create unnecessary drama. Sure some of them hit the “My Feelings Are Hurt” button and do stupid things, but some people step up to the plate and become more than their past deserves!
What I do with the betrayals are not up to them, but up to me.
… and I had a revelation that nice, honest old people had every hardship and excuse to become bitter or image-driven that I do, but somewhere along the way they decided they’d rather not have to have that great a memory:)